Independence Bowl grades: Wolfpack TE Jaylen Samuels shines in win

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from N.C. State's 41-17 bowl win over Vanderbilt.

| 5 months ago
Jaylen Samuels

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Independence Bowl grades: Wolfpack TE Jaylen Samuels shines in win

North Carolina State Wolfpack 41, Vanderbilt Commodores 17

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the North Carolina State Wolfpack’s 41-17 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores in the Camping World Independence Bowl.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

Quarterback grade: Ryan Finley, 69.1

Finley picks up bowl win via air and ground attack

Ryan Finley was efficient as a passer against Vanderbilt, completing 63.3 percent of his throws. Finley completed three of his five targets to the intermediate depth (10-19 yards downfield). He had a QB rating of 158.3 when throwing from a clean pocket. Finley was also the Wolfpack’s leading rusher, as he carried the ball on designed runs—including quarterback power—four times for 24 yards, and added 11 yards after contact.

Ryan Finley vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

C Joe Scelfo, 86.2

TE Jaylen Samuels, 85.5

T Will Richardson, 85.1 

G Tony Adams, 83.9

T Tyler Jones, 82.4

Tight end Jaylen Samuels puts on a show

Jaylen Samuels—the talented Wolfpack tight end—showcased his versatility as an offensive weapon, as he lined up in numerous places versus Vanderbilt. Samuels was also used in the screen game to showcase his athleticism and open-field running ability, and he turned one of the screens into a 55-yard touchdown reception. Samuels ended the day with six catches on 10 targets, provided 105 yards after the catch and scoring three touchdowns. Center Joe Scelfo was a very effective reach-blocker who sealed off some nice running lanes for his teammates.

Top defensive grades:

CB Niles Clark, 83.5

LB Dravious Wright, 82.0

LB Airius Moore, 80.1

DI Justin Jones, 77.6

ED Bradley Chubb, 76.1

Wolfpack defense proves too much for the Commodores

Cornerback Niles Clark ended the game with an exclamation point, as he read Kyle Shurmur’s eyes and jumped on the pass early to cap the game off with a pick-six on the final play. Clark’s coverage line for the game was impressive, as he was thrown at eight times but only allowed two catches for 16 yards, batting one pass down and recording the aforementioned pick-six. Justin Jones had one sack, one QB hit, and two QB hurries on 28 pass-rushing snaps. Linebacker Airius Moore recorded two sacks and one QB hit on only six pass-rushing snaps. Bradley Chubb was strong against the run, but also provided one sack and three hurries on 34 pass-rushing snaps.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Quarterback grade: Kyle Shurmur, 47.3

Rough outing for Shurmur

Kyle Shurmur didn’t exactly turn in the bowl performance he and the Commodores were hoping for. Shurmur’s QB rating when kept clean was only 19.8, and he only completed one of his 15 pass attempts that were targeted at least 10 or more yards downfield. Shurmur was most successful throwing short and to the middle of the field against the tough Wolfpack defense.

Kyle Shurmur vs pressure

Top offensive grades: 

C Barrett Gouger, 81.7

G Bruno Reagan, 77.6

WR Caleb Scott, 72.5

T Will Holden, 72.3

G Bailey Granier, 70.3

Commodores’ O-line records solid outing

At times during the game, it appeared that the talented North Carolina defensive front wasn’t allowing Vanderbilt to do much of anything on offense. Halfback Ralph Webb provided the Commodores with a little spark, as he provided 45 yards rushing after contact, forced one missed tackle, and scored a touchdown. Wide receiver Caleb Scott was the Commodores’ leading receiver; he was targeted eight times, catching four of them and providing 21 yards after the catch.

Top defensive grades:

LB Josh Smith, 83.3 

S Ladarius Wiley, 72.3

S Ryan White, 70.3

CB Joejuan Williams, 53.7

ED Charles Wright, 51.3

Defense can’t slow down Wolfpack

It’s a bad sign when two of a team’s top-five defenders have overall grades in the 50.0s. Linebacker Josh Smith was only targeted once in coverage and made a tackle for a loss on the play. Safety Ryan White was thrown at three times in coverage and allowed two catches for 29 yards, and was able to break up one pass. Ladarius Wiley was able to break up the only pass that came into his coverage area.

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. 

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